I wasn't aware of any other demonyms that add a V, except the unofficial Whovian (a fan of Doctor Who). This Wikipedia page turned up a few more more:

  • Barrow-in-Furness → Barrovian
  • Oamaru → Oamaruvian
  • Oslo → Oslovian
  • Peru → Peruvian
  • Warsaw → Varsovian
  • Waterloo → Waterluvian

Judging from the switch from W to V in Varsovian, I'm guessing this has something to do with Latin, but the places in that list don't seem to be linked by a Latin sphere of influence. Why do some demonyms add a V?

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    Peru and Waterloo stand out because orthographically we don't see a w at the end of the noun form, but phonologically it's the same as Harrow, Shaw (=Harrovian, Shavian). That's to say we always change the w to a v - my guess being that it's easier to articulate, but what do I know? Feb 28, 2016 at 17:15
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    I think "Varsovian" may be unrelated to the others -- note that <w> is pronounced /v/ in Polish. Also, v-insertion is not 100% restricted to demonyms; consider e.g. "Monrovia". But, +1 -- this is a really interesting question!
    – ruakh
    Feb 28, 2016 at 17:19
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    Yeah, basically if you're going to form the word by appending "-ian" you need to insert a consonant sound after a word ending with the oh" or "ooo" sound in order for it to be reasonably pronounceable. "V" works better in this regard than, say, "K".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 28, 2016 at 19:06
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    Seems 'V' has a deep bonding with long 'O', or 'U' or, for that matter, 'W'. But, Oh! Pity me. I know little of phonetics. Feb 28, 2016 at 19:23
  • 1
    There's one word that shows an analogous alternation of y and j: Troy, Trojan
    – herisson
    Feb 28, 2016 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia gives the etymology as Piruw [pɪɾʊw], from Quechua, the Inka language.
That [w] at the end would become a /v/ in Spanish when adding a suffix to produce Peruviano.

English demonyms have lots of odd features, and this isn't even English demonymy.
I remember when I was in grad school we used to try to figure out what kind of process
could possibly produce Glaswegian from Glasgow, and Norwegian from Norway.

  • 2
    Latinization (norvegicus) is often to blame. Liverpudlian started as a donnish joke; going right over the heads of 99% of the population, it became the official term. Feb 28, 2016 at 23:20
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    @TimLymington 'going right over the heads of 99% of the population' Were there more Diddymen in those days? Feb 28, 2016 at 23:32
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    @John Lawler Is peruviano an archaic Spanish form? The modern Spanish is peruano. Feb 29, 2016 at 16:01
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    @SamKauffman Spanish has three denonyms for Peru: peruano, peruviano, perulero. The latter two fell out of use around 1800. May 4, 2016 at 3:15
  • As an adjective for the works or style of George Bernard Shaw, I've seen "Shavian". I'm unsure how it's pronounced. Mar 27, 2018 at 9:28

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